Another week brings another change to the key pillars of the side. Two players that have quietly been showing great form in their respective positions finally get the All-Australian nod they deserve in this week’s changes.
Robbie Tarrant has had a great season for North Melbourne, but Michael Hurley has probably been ahead of him for a few weeks now. Hurley not only shuts down the opposition full forward, but he provides a lot of rebound out of defence for the Bombers. Many people have rated Hurley as the All-Australian full back for a while now and after a few weeks of backing in Tarrant, the change has been made.
Rory Laird’s form isn’t quite what it was in the first few months of the season, but the Adelaide defender is still well ahead of anyone trying to push him out of the side. The other five defenders in the team are all pretty locked in at this stage. Zach Tuohy’s spot has been questioned a few times, but he continues to prove himself in big moments for the Cats, as he did on the weekend with 28 disposals and two goals. Jake Lever and Dylan Roberton are probably the two closest players to a berth in this side.
The ruck battle has shifted again with Matthew Kreuzer taking the lead and grabbing the spot in the team ahead of Sam Jacobs. Kreuzer has had a career-best year, beating most of the big-name ruckmen, kicking goals and having an impact around the ground. Jacobs has had a great year too, but Kreuzer has kicked eight goals for the year and laid more tackles than any of the top 20 ruckmen in the competition by a wide margin.
Joel Selwood was concussed in the opening minute of Sunday’s game and it would be unfair to punish him for it, so he’s safe for now. Josh Kelly and Gary Ablett were late omissions from their respective sides, but have also done enough to keep their spots. Tom Mitchell, Trent Cotchin and Josh Kennedy are all deserving of spots in this side, but my two-midfielder bench policy keeps them out for the sake of a balanced team.
Joe Daniher had a poor game this week and is probably the favourite to lose his spot once Josh Kennedy returns, but the Bombers young-gun kicked four goals a fortnight ago so Lance Franklin isn’t quite safe just yet. Dayne Zorko had a horrendous game, but for now it goes in the aberration category. Jeff Garlett continues to stake his claim for a spot in the team and Jack Riewoldt has also had a very good season.
FB: Jeremy Howe, Michael Hurley, Elliot Yeo
HB: Sam Docherty, Alex Rance, Rory Laird
C: Zach Merrett, Patrick Dangerfield, Josh Kelly
HF: Dayne Zorko, Lance Franklin, Robbie Gray
FF: Toby Greene, Jeremy Cameron, Eddie Betts
Foll: Matthew Kreuzer, Gary Ablett, Dustin Martin
Int: Zach Tuohy, Joe Daniher, Scott Pendlebury, Joel Selwood
Out: Robbie Tarrant, Sam Jacobs
On the cusp: Tom Mitchell, Dylan Roberton, Josh Kennedy x2, Jeff Garlett, Trent Cotchin, Jake Lever
On the fringe: Joe Daniher, Josh Kelly, Gary Ablett, Dayne Zorko